Friday, February 24, 2012

Folklife Friday: Watch the Sky

History shows the Babylonians were predicting weather by watching the sky as early as 650 B.C.
Weather prediction in China and India can be traced back to around 300 B.C. The Greek philosopher Aristotle published a work called Meteorologica about 350 B.C. that described weather patterns. A little later, one of his students, Theophrastus, wrote the Book of Signs on weather forecasting. (Aristotle also concluded that earthquakes are caused by wind in caves. Just sayin'.)

Today, we watch weather forecasts to determine what to wear and whether or not we should take our umbrellas, a matter of convenience. People took it a little more seriously when it could be a matter of life and death. Sometimes, teaching children to read the sky was more important than teaching them to read books.

There was always a copy of the Farmers' Almanac at our house. It contains long-term weather forecasts based on climatological patterns of the past. Our almanac would be ragged by the end of the year from my mama looking at moon signs and weather predictions.

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning.

Jesus used this weather sign to teach his disciples. In Matthew 16:2-3, He said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times."

This quote is the one I remember being used  most at our house. Daddy would look to the western sky as the sun set and hope he could get the seed corn in the ground before the rain arrived. Another sign my parents swore by was a ring around the moon, which always insured changes in the weather.

    We could learn a lot from watching the sky.